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Brazil Coca-Cola bottler Solar Bebidas sees IPO resumption as soon as Q4

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By Tatiana Bautzer

NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian bottler of Coca-Cola Co products, Solar Bebidas SA, expects to resume its initial public offering process as soon as 2022's fourth quarter, or the first quarter of 2023, its general director, André Salles, said in an interview with Reuters.

Solar initially filed for an IPO in August 2021, soon after acquiring smaller rival Simoes through its holding Sipasa Participações in a stock swap.

Simoes shareholders now own 20% of the combined company, Coca-Cola's second-largest bottler in Brazil and 15th largest in the world.

Solar is keeping the bank syndicate led by JPMorgan Chase & Co which includes the investment banking units of Itau Unibanco, UBS BB, BTG Pactual and Morgan Stanley. The offering will be purely secondary, to give liquidity to shareholders.

Solar is keeping contact with potential investors in its IPO presenting financial statements as if it was a listed company, Salles added. The combined company in 2021 posted pro-forma earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), a gauge of operational profit, of 1.2 billion reais ($237 million). Pro-forma revenue was 10 billion reais last year.

Salles told investors during meetings last week in a conference hosted by Itau Unibanco in New York that the company, located in the North and Northeastern regions of Brazil, is expected to grow even if the country's economy struggles, due to lower consumption levels in those regions.

During the pandemic, the company increased online sales and even launched a fintech division to offer digital accounts to its clients, mainly mom and pop stores. Solar delivers products to 400,000 stores in Brazil. ($1 = 5.0606 reais) (Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)